Medical experts sound concerns over those who opted not to get 2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose

The new Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus (previously known as the B.1.617.2 variant) has spread to the United States, with cases appearing in most states, including Arizona, and the virus itself is not the only concern.

CDC Data: Many have opted not to get 2nd COVID-19 vaccine dose

According to data from the CDC, millions of people who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine have opted not to get the second dose.

Health officials call these stats concerning, especially taking into account the more contagious Delta variant.

"It's both more contagious, so it spreads more quickly, and it can also cause more severe disease," said Rebecca Sunenshine, Medical Director of Disease Control at Maricopa County Health Department.

Current vaccines are less effective against this particular strain, which is why Dr. Sunenshine says getting both doses of the vaccine is now more important than ever.

"We want to make sure that we don't get symptoms, even if it is not severe disease, you can still pass it to other people and they can get severe disease and become hospitalized," said Dr. Sunenshine.

Dr. Sunenshine said that one dose of the vaccine is only 30% effective against this new strain, whereas two doses are 80% to 90% effective.

"Maybe work gets in the way. It is inconvenient, but now, we know particularly for the Delta strain and in general, it is absolutely critical to get the second dose to protect yourself from getting sick," said Dr. Sunenshine.

Millions are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Arizona

According to figures from the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than three million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the state, translating to nearly 50% of the population.

Currently, the Delta variant makes up only 2% of the reported cases, but Dr. Sunenshine says since it is highly contagious, the key to preventing its spread is to get vaccinated now.

Dr. Sunenshine says people can still get the second dose of the vaccine, even if they missed the recommended window for both doses.

"It’s not too late to get your second dose, even if it had been much more than three or four weeks," sdaid Dr. Sunenshine. "Depending on what vaccine you got, that second dose will still be highly effective."

Once a person receives that second dose of the vaccine, it does take two weeks for that person to be considered fully vaccinated.

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COVID-19 resources:

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)